Tag Archives: Argentina

A Christian Voice In A Changing Culture

Heart of the Lion

‘I love you tenderly, faithfully, mercifully; and I will draw you into the embrace of My friendship, and hold you close against My sacred side until, at length, You come to abide in My Most Sacred Heart, the sanctuary of My elect, and the refuge of poor sinners.’ In Sinu Jesu

Leon (lion in Spanish) houses the longest running Living Waters group in Mexico. The city’s core is Sacred Heart Church, built only yards away from an archway commemorating the city’s founding in the 15th century. Displayed atop the majestic door is a life-size lion. Aha, I thought: The Lion of Judah endowed with power to vanquish sin, leading us into the House of the Lamb—Jesus’ Sacred Heart, Almighty God slain for sinners who welcomes the poor into the chambers of His compassion. The Lion becomes a Lamb: cleansing, feeding, healing, protecting the most vulnerable in the courts of His Heart, His house, in the city’s center. Jesus is the Heart of Leon.

We passed through Lion’s gate to go to Mass soon after arriving. It was Friday night, the first of the month—celebration of Jesus’ Sacred Heart. The house was packed, the pastor turned on and up, the rapt crowd hanging on every Word declared; passionate, yes, then quietly reverent for the Meal of His Heart, partaking of the Lamb broken for us. Afterwards, the pastor invited up all intercessors who wanted to pray for someone in need of Jesus’ Sacred, sheltering Heart; he offered each intercessor a red-ribboned medallion of that Heart as a reminder to pray daily for that one. The crowd stampeded the altar. Jesus is the Heart of Leon.

My Leonese friend, Samuel Rojas, exhausted his young adult life in ‘gay’ pursuits then began to be drawn back to Jesus through a devout mother. Sharp of mind, he realized through studying developmental psychology that his same-sex stuff was a window to wounds, distorted perceptions, and unmet needs. He wanted healing and began to seek it through Jesus’ Sacred Heart of love for him; practically, he attended Courage meetings in the city and Living Waters Trainings outside Leon. He was aggressive in pursuit of wholeness—lion-like—but at the end of the day realized that any progress in chastity was pure gift, born of the Lamb’s merciful Heart. Jesus, the Heart of Leon, shares His Heart with Samuel.

It was fun to watch Samuel grow. Each year, in weeklong trainings (Argentina, Mexico City, Guadalajara), he progressed, one step at a time. He caught a vision for life beyond abstinence, he started dating Alejandra and married her in Sacred Heart Church, the two had a son David, his mother came to get healing for herself….He has become a good leader of others, working in sync with his parish and pastor to accompany spiritual sons and daughters into growth in chastity.

After Mass Friday night, I was pleased to discover that our conference was to be held at Sacred Heart Church. We gathered joyfully; Mexican bearers of ‘Living Water’ witnessed to how Jesus restores His wounded and makes us healers in His house, merciful agents of His Heart. I realize that each one worshipping, repenting, and receiving healing from fellow members is being built together to take their places in His Sacred Heart–lion-like, utterly tender, imploring all—‘Come into the Heart of Leon and be set free!’

Please take time to watch our video and become ‘Chaste Together.’

Open Door to Chastity: Beginning Again in Argentina

‘See, I have placed before you an open door that cannot be shut’ (Rev. 3:8).

The free and demanding door to chastity cannot be shut. It remains eternally open because God is the doorkeeper and He loves to usher His children into sexual wholeness. Wholeness is chastity: the integration of our spirituality and sexuality that frees us to accept the solid ‘gendered’ gifts we are, guarded by self-control and thus liberated to be generous and impartial in love for others.

Many people gathered at our ‘Aquas Vivas’ conference last weekend in Cordoba Argentina. Brave men and women filled the Sacred Heart auditorium and dared to hope again for chaste lives. Their innocence struck down but not destroyed, they knocked and Jesus became for them the open door to chastity.

Roderigo confessed a heart of stone due to a dad who fathered three families and left his mother bereft. He cried over her suffering for years until his heart hardened and he walled off the Church and his own commitment to chastity. This weekend a light dawned. Much as he hated his dad, he realized he was following his path. He wants more: he wants the chaste way of life only Jesus can show him.

My part in his process? Roderigo figured ‘if Jesus could help a homo change, there must be hope for him.’ So be it. I was helped by a beautiful team of Cordobans (and three saints from the Vineyard in Santiago Chile) who run Aguas Vivas there, each with a distinct witness of how Jesus made them faithful. Each person’s witness of hope proved hopeful to all. Personal resurrections, well-expressed, inspire new life in everyone.

This open door in Cordoba had special meaning for myself and Aguas Vivas leader Maite Rodriguez. For ten years until 2011, Cordoba had been the base for Aquas Vivas in South America. We relied upon a team of Pentecostal saints there; Cordoba became a ‘home away from home’ for me and I fell in love with its rich history and warm people.

When I became a Catholic over 4 years ago, the Cordobans could not in good conscience tolerate this change. They refused my leadership and the door closed. My last trip to Cordoba—an effort to build an ecumenical bridge–failed dismally. I left in grief and supposed I would never enter her splendid Spanish gates again.

When Desert Stream/Aquas Vivas regrouped to equip Latin America with a more thorough ecumenical approach, the first group to apply for our training in Mexico City was from Cordoba. Notably, one of the priests from a Catholic charismatic community there came with several lay persons and led the way by diving into the healing waters himself. Three years later, the Cordobans have emerged as an inspired, trustworthy team. Maite and I relished the welcome they gave us and look forward to ongoing partnership with our new family in Cordoba.

While we were there, we had the privilege of meeting the bishop who oversees the group. He loves Aguas Vivas and encouraged us ‘to release the waters’ to all persons, not only Catholics.

The bishop understands that chastity is a gift and a goal for all persons seeking freedom. Chastity is an open door for each Christian, an open door that cannot be shut because He is the gatekeeper. How grateful we are to re-enter the gates of Cordoba and make known once more the ever-open door.

‘Since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through His body…let us draw near to God with full assurance of faith, having our hearts cleansed from a guilty conscience, our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to our hope, for He who promised is faithful’ (Heb. 10: 19-23).

For a pdf of the prayers for the Return to the Father 40 Day Fast please click here.

Merciful Rest

Running hard in the jungles of Venezuela or on the pampas of Argentina (or crazy lost anywhere in Europe) may sound fun but actually it is exhausting. And so I was upon returning home after a particularly arduous trip.

Annette and I took a few days off—no release; I increased my sleep each night—no release. Everything seemed hard and a hassle; even normal sources of connection and renewal seemed more a drain than a gift. I was approaching burn-out (the experts call it ‘pre burn-out’), and it scared me.

I went back into counseling with a trusted Christian and began to see that my works for Jesus were overtaking my devotion to Him. Slowly, steadily, I was spending less time in His Presence and more time tending to the needs of my large family and the growing global family of ‘Living Waters’ ministers.

The Lord turned and looked at me the way He did Peter after the apostle’s third denial. Like Peter, I wept bitterly. (Lk 22:62) I had made a vow to the Lord years earlier that nothing would come between us, that I would wake up every day and seek His face, regardless of other demands. I denied Him that. My works for Him had overtaken my devotion to Him.

I had to return to Him. That began a rather long process of exploring fresh ways to pray. I discovered contemplative prayer, the quiet prayer in which one simply rests in His Presence, calling to mind and heart only His unfailing love. In that way, God works His way in us, without a lot of words, as we seek only to rest in Him.

I spent anywhere from 30 minutes to 60 minutes each morning just gazing on His goodness. (Meditating on the cross and a few choice scriptures helped out here.)

To be honest, I was so tired that’s all I could do—no interceding for the ‘10-40 window’ or racing through the Old Testament for this haggard saint!

I re-entered the rest of what He had done for me. I fulfilled the exhortation ‘to make every effort to enter the rest’ (Heb. 4:9-11), and discovered there was a Sabbath rest for me. If I did not draw constantly from that merciful stream, then I risked ‘falling into disobedience’ (v.11).

That disobedience involved my works outpacing my devotion to Him, and could disqualify me from God’s call—to grow in strength and wisdom as I keep digging ditches around the globe.

I found rest as I sent down my roots into this mercy stream. I could draw from it at the beginning of the day, and throughout the day, as I paused to consider what He had done for me.

He restored my soul. The water levels rose as I made the little daily effort to be still and receive His grace.

‘He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me besides quiet waters;
He restores my soul.’ (PS 23: 2, 3)

‘In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength.’
(Is. 30:15)

‘As You have shown us mercy, O God, in the desert places of our lives, would You show mercy to the beleaguered state of marriage in the USA? As the Perry vs. Schw. case wends its way to the National Supreme Court, prepare for Yourself a victory. We shall render to Caesar what is Caesar’s but we shall prayerfully fight for what is Yours, O God. Prepare the hearts of each justice, especially Justice Anthony Kennedy, to uphold marriage according to Your merciful design. Remember mercy, O God.’

The Cleansing Flood

The heart of our efforts in South America lies in Argentina, home of our faithful colleagues, Mauricio and Daniela Montion.

The enemy of our souls aims at the heart–perhaps that is why I usually experience significant degrees of temptation in Argentina. I can feel the tension as soon as I enter Buenos Aires then trek to Cordoba where our annual training is.

One year was especially tough. And I had only myself to blame. Troubled by the advances of ‘gay marriage’ back in the USA, I tossed and turned all night then turned on the TV for a distraction. Some Latin soft-porn game show was on—it only took a couple of minutes for my mind to be inflamed with foul images.

Shamed and dulled by sin, I met with the Living Waters Leadership team the next day in preparation for the training. All I could do was confess my sin before them. That elicited a string of confessions. Then we waited before the Lord. In a manner that I had not experienced before, God rolled in like a huge raincloud over us and just began to pour forth ‘living water’ upon us—He poured out His mercy like driving sheets of rain upon us. I could see sin and shame being forced out like rodents from a storm drain.

It was as if we were enveloped in a low-hanging cloud that kept raining on us, removing one layer of silt then raining more and removing another, then another. God’s cleansing Presence hovered about us for 15 minutes.

He made us new. He prepared us through His extravagant mercy to help others enter into the waters of mercy themselves.

The night that we renounced idols was unusually powerful. As soon as the sounds of deliverance had subsided, there was a sweet calm. Then one couple started dancing in the quiet. The worship team took their cue then we all started to dance, joyful celebrating the real people God had given us to love—not unreal images but beloved brothers and sisters we can enjoy without shame.

In spite of the merriment and victory, I awoke the next morning feeling heavy in spirit; my only refuge came through prayer. I kept praying through the heaviness, seeking a breakthrough. During the break, I took a long run in the pampas. I followed the same highway that the Franciscans and Jesuits took as they moved south to establish churches and schools throughout Argentina.

I noticed two foxes in front me traversing back and forth from the brush onto the road then back again. I was reminded of ‘the little foxes’ in Song of Songs, referring to spoilers of the vineyard and its fruit.

In a whisper, the Lord reminded me of just what we were doing at the training on behalf of South America. ‘Through your team, I am cleansing my people of the biggest obstacles that threaten to divide and devour them: sins of impurity and adultery, hostility between men and women, hostility between rich and poor, hostility between the dark native people and the white Europeans, hostility between Catholic and Protestant. You are establishing my cross as the ground of mercy, the level ground where those humbled by my mercy will be saved and set free. And the merciful ground that they will take establish in their own churches!’

I understood the warfare. It was worth the fight. I vowed yet again to tell the truth of my own sin and distress so that God’s mercy might rest upon me all the more. And I renewed my commitment to run hard as long as God gave me breath. And mercy. I barely noticed the little foxes in front of me as I ran back to our gathering.

‘As You have shown us mercy, O God, in the desert places of our lives, would You show mercy to the beleaguered state of marriage in the USA? As the Perry vs. Schw. case wends its way to the National Supreme Court, prepare for Yourself a victory. We shall render to Caesar what is Caesar’s but we shall prayerfully fight that what is Yours, O God. Prepare the hearts of each justice, especially Justice Anthony Kennedy, to uphold marriage according to Your merciful design. Remember mercy, O God.’

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